As I’m sure only a few of you know, yesterday was feminist Simone de Beauvoir’s birthday, which awoke within my mind thoughts upon the subject of femininity. If you are not familiar with de Beauvoir, you are likely aware of the effects her feminist philosophy has had on society, from the simple action of women preferring pants to skirts to the spark of second-wave feminism.
Although I’m all for trousers and intellect adorning the American female, I can’t help but wonder what we have lost from the feminine identity of the past. I often question how much further these new waves of feminism can take us into the sea of social justice, and if it worth losing sight of the shore.
It remains true that we must not regress, but progress, as de Beauvoir makes very clear in her myriad of feminist work. I am no one to throw away the knowledge of the woman who stands as the reason my in-class questions raise the attention of my male professors (and not because of my youthful attire). But I believe the female progression must trail at least a shadow’s distance behind the progress of the societal male. We have to remember that our gender keeps us in balance; it is this very balance that defines the great literature of our nation. Hemingway could not write his heroic A Farewell to Arms without the tenderness of Catherine Barkley, and Fitzgerald could not craft his idealistic Gatsby without the iridescent Daisy Buchanan to define his ideals.
Women must have the right to be just as inspired intellectually as their male counterparts, but we must not forget that we, as women, are often the inspiration to these counterparts. I myself am attracted to men with power, men who are strong in persona as well as physicality, and as strong as the American male may be, he needs a woman to provide him with balance and the characteristics that he is forever lacking on his own. If I ever hope to find the Hemingway-esque man of my dreams, I must surely keep the feminine air he’s looking to breathe.
Feminists make the world move forward, but only the feminine make the world go ’round. Therefore, I am going to progress alongside de Beauvoir, but always stand a bit behind Hemingway, hoping he’ll turn around for a glance.
Sure, feminists, read a book, perhaps even write one; Simone would be proud. But maybe bat your mascara-ed lashes when you read it to your publisher.
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